External Readers

Paulo Durval Branco

is Vice Coordinator of the Center for Sustainability Studies (GVces) of the Getulio Vargas Foundation’s School of Business Administration (FGV EAESP), where he leads projects in the areas of strategy and sustainability management, stakeholder engagement, sustainable value chains, innovation and entrepreneurship, internationalization of companies, among others. He is also a founding partner of Ekobé, one of the first Brazilian consultancies specializing in corporate sustainability, where he contributed to the integration of principles and practices of sustainable development into the strategy of several national and multinational organizations, as well as into the value chain of several industry sectors. Paulo, who holds an MBA degree in Business Administration from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, is a professor of the Professional Masters in Competitiveness Management, with emphasis on Sustainability and Master in Sustainability Management, both from FGV-EAESP.

A Look at Fibria’s 2017 Report

To readers, there is no doubt that Fibria’s 2017 Report portrays a journey. Not only of the past year and the most recent fiscal periods, but also of the consolidation of a management system that seeks, on a daily basis, to be more and more in tune with the profound transition of our production and consumption methods. This is clear not only in its compliance with the principles of good reporting, such as materiality, clarity, and comparability, but also in how it addresses social and environmental aspects, ranging from compliance with regulations to the strategic choice of business models that embrace the challenges of sustainability as actual opportunities to create value for the company, its stakeholders, and society in general.

Recognized nationally and internationally for its size, strategic outlook, and operational excellence, Fibria has demonstrated a significant ability to use its current commodity-based business platform, which is pulp, not only to consolidate its license to operate, but also to go beyond, creating products and markets for the new economy.

Regarding the license to operate, which is ultimately assigned by the company’s stakeholders, in 2017, Fibria carried out several initiatives that caught my attention. These included:

  1. the start-up of the second production line at the unit in Três Lagoas (Mato Grosso do Sul state), whose project and execution, even with 8,700 employees during the peak of the project, adopted noteworthy practices in managing the impacts that large projects normally cause in the regions where they are implemented;
  2. the launch of We are Fibria, which translates into a movement marking the evolution of the company’s corporate culture, expressed in an inspiration and a purpose that are both daring and inspiring;
  3. the launch of its position statement on Diversity, which is accompanied by a set of actions aimed toward recognizing and valuing differences in gender, race, sexual orientation, and disability;
  4. the launch of the Sustainable Procurement Program, which was conceived with the participation of supplier representatives and seeks to contribute to the Company’s Procurement area being recognized by the market and stakeholders as an innovative area that induces economic, social, and environmental value in the value chain; and
  5. the company’s first green bond issue, USD 700 million in green bonds, which will be used to finance investments related to clean and renewable energy and to reduce emissions of contaminants and consumption of water, energy, and raw materials.

Perhaps inspired by the idea of creative destruction, a term coined by economist Joseph Schumpeter regarding replacing outdated models with other more innovative arrangements, in its 2017 report, Fibria presents some initiatives that point to new products and markets and deserve to be hailed with enthusiasm. The first initiative refers to developing solutions and products in the field of biotechnology, based on the experience acquired through management and exploitation of planted forests. Navigating among renewable fuels from biomass and revolutionary biomaterials, Fibria’s corporate venturing and open innovation actions are undoubtedly paving the way for a portfolio compatible with a low-carbon economy. The second initiative of this nature that I would like to highlight is the pilot project for valuating externalities, which explores one of the knowledge frontiers on sustainability, which is the measurement and valuation of aspects related to natural capital and ecosystem services, core elements for the operation and continuity of a company that is intimately connected to the inventory of natural resource and the flows of nature. Finally, I would like to point out the efforts undertaken, on several national and international multi-stakeholder forums, to create a business-friendly institutional environment aligned with the quest for effectively sustainable development.

Looking ahead, I would like to highlight three elements that I hope and expect to see covered in future reports. One is the greater connection and contextualization of Fibria’s performance indicators with respect to the reality of the regions, countries, and societies where it operates. Much like what we have begun to see regarding water resources, in terms of the watersheds where the company has operations. This would undoubtedly further differentiate the interesting Indicators Center that have been part of the company’s reports for several years.

Another element I would like to see included is a broader and more detailed account of the portfolio diversification process based on innovations in the field of biotechnology. This would not only inspire other companies, but it may also point the way for a country like Brazil, where biodiversity is a passport to the future. The last element I would like to see is that I believe companies such as Fibria should boldly build new metrics that, in fact, contribute to incorporating natural capital into economic-financial decisions. If for the companies from the old economy this will mean substantial loss of value or even cost them their survival, for those that are creatively destroying themselves, it will certainly mean a transition to an economy that takes into account people and the ability to support the planet.

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Paulo Nassar

Professor at ECA-USP and Managing Director at Aberje

Holder of a PhD and Master’s degrees from the School of Communications and Arts of the University of São Paulo (ECA-USP) and Post-Doctor degree from Libera Università di Lingue e Comunicazione (IULM) in Milan, Italy. He is the coordinator of the Novas Narrativas Study Group (GENN ECA-USP) and Professor at the School of Communications and Arts of the University of São Paulo (ECA-USP). Managing Director of Aberje, Associação Brasileira de Comunicação Empresarial (Brazilian Association of Corporate Communications).

An honest tale speeds best, being plainly told.

William Shakespeare, Richard III, Act IV.

Fibria’s 2017 Sustainability Report, which emphasizes shared value and social issues, is written in a straightforward manner and may be summarized in one word: realism.

Why make this distinction?

For three main reasons. Firstly, because it is written in a Socratic style, in the form of questions and answers, thus managing to speak equally of achievements and impasses – emphasizing achievements without minimizing the impasses. It goes beyond the self-congratulatory formula, valuing teamwork and a vision of the future as well as the company’s achievements during one of the most difficult years in Brazilian history.

Secondly, because it went beyond reporting profits in order to address social issues, such as fighting sexual exploitation of children and adolescents at those places where the company has its roots. And it was not just that. It forged alliances with the communities in order to address issues of gender, race, and social exclusion, always recognizing difficulties. This way, it gave corporate responsibility a new dimension and range, creating new paradigms.

Finally, it concentrated on the complexity a company that plants forests must face when caring for the environment. As such, it demonstrated the company’s willingness to integrate with communities instead of living in conflict. In other words, it can be said that the Report deals with the sense of corporate reputation of a company in the pulp and paper sector. It demonstrates that, in addition to wishing to be recognized for seeking balance and healthy relationships with communities, it seeks to be unique in terms preserving the environment. And this uniqueness means recognizing that sustainability is everything; it is a process that communicates stability, thereby yielding an honest report where even information on impasses is valued.

It is a modern stability code in tune with how fast information flows. Recognizing difficulties, it values achievements and shared value that is nothing other than the positive influence the company has on society. These are the lines of a broad argument that makes the 2017 Sustainability Report a comprehensive document for communication that shows sustainability as a practical and visible policy from all angles. It aims not only to be transparent, but also to show the willingness to carry out actions. It is evident, when the messages of the Report are decoded, that company and community can operate and evolve together.